tell them a story

Tad_Hollyhock_2015So, I’m about to hit the road on tour with my workshops. I might even be coming to your town.

And so I need to describe my workshops to people. You might be in the same boat – needing to describe something that’s . . . complicated. Maybe it’s a service, or maybe it’s a workshop. And one of the best ways to do this is to tell them a story. Help describe the experience in such rich and vivid detail that they really, really ‘get’ what it’s going to be like.

Last week, I wrote up something for my weekend Marketing 101 for Holistic Practitioners workshop and I shared it with one of my favourite marketing colleagues, Carrie Klassen of Pink Elephant Communications. She read it and said, “All day long, I am telling clients “tell me what to expect… tell me what it will look like and what it will feel like.. make me already there… be kind and set me at ease.” Tell me a story!

It’s not about just listing features and benefits. It’s about putting them into the experience itself. It’s not about focusing on what you’re going to give them – but what they’re going to receive. Not focusing only on the content you’re giving them, but on the context they’ll be experiencing. It’s about immersing their imagination into it before they have to risk spending their time and money. It’s about humanizing it.

When you tell stories like this it warms your marketing right up. It’s like serving your marketing with a nice, wool sweater and cup of herbal tea.

So, I thought I’d share it with you to see what you think and welcome your ideas for improvement.

What do you think?


Here’s what Your Weekend Might Look Like:

Let me paint the scene . . .

On Friday night you arrive from a busy day excited about the weekend. The workshop space is naturally lit, beautiful and casual (maybe a community hall or funky university classroom or a room at a local arts centre – definitely not a Hotel Meeting Room).

Slowly people start to arrive. And they’re all people like you. They’re quirky, fun, open-minded and excited to meet you. You grab a seat at a table where you’re joined by four others and you all start chatting right away. You like these people.

The facilitator (that’s me!) grabs a seat at the front of the room and warmly welcomes you to the weekend. ‘For this weekend,’ he says. ‘Your marketing is my problem.’ You immediately relax.

You then take about a minute each to introduce yourselves to the whole group – who you are and what you do. You’re happy it’s done in a casual and relaxed way instead of those forced and lame icebreakers some people make you do. And, not once are you asked to high five your neighbour. Thank. God.

This is followed by ten minutes in small groups where you share where you’re struggling. You’re surprised to hear your story being repeated by everyone at the table. All of the problems you’re struggling with, they’re also struggling with. It feels so good not to feel alone or crazy. It seems everyone’s got the same issues.

Then the facilitator gets up and starts to go over The Journey (watch the nine minute video above to see it for yourself now). And things start clicking into place for you. Suddenly years of fuzziness around marketing start to come into focus.

With that framework in place, you’re invited to find a partner and ‘interview’ each other. It’s still early in the weekend – so you pick someone safe to work with. You find a quiet area of the room and begin the interview process. Over the next thirty minutes, your partner asks your four questions: where do you want to be with your marketing? Where are you now? What’s in the gap? What do you already know you need to do? They’re such simple questions but as you speak, you begin to realize, ‘No one’s ever really asked me these questions before! I’ve never really, really thought about all of this.’ You start to answer but the more you speak the deeper you go.

Thankfully your partner has been instructed that they’re not allowed to give you any advice. They’re just there to listen and ask questions that might help you get clearer about the nature of your own situation.

By the end of the thirty minutes – you’re not where you thought you’d be. The things you started with only half an hour ago were only the surface – and you’ve had the chance to go several levels deeper. You’ve actually never felt so clear.

Wow. It feels good to be listened to.

The evening wraps up some leisurely time to talk about the exercise and ask any questions that are on you mind. You go home – your mind feeling clearer but stimulated. You have a great sleep.

You show up at a very civilized 10am on Saturday morning (you’re so glad he doesn’t start his workshops at 8am) and the day starts with a casual conversation to see if there are any questions since the evening before. You’re really enjoying the casual but focused pacing of the weekend.

Over the day, you learn about the Top Ten Must Have Tools for any practitioner to grow their practice. You’re happy to discover that you already have some of them! And some you never even thought of. But it feels great to at least know what’s missing and where you can improve what you’ve got.

In the morning you talk about the first four tools: Specialization, Website, Photo and Bio. It all makes sense and you can begin to feel the gears turning. Already, you feel like you’ve learned more about marketing than you have since you started your career.

Lunch comes at 1pm and you’re delighted to find it’s an hour and half. You hate rushed meal times at lunches. You all trundle out to that local, organic cafe that you love. The one with the great soups. You enjoy a relaxed meal together – the conversation shifting easily from what you learned this morning to good old fashioned getting to know each other. And . . . these people are amazing. Even that person you were secretly annoyed by on Friday night – you’re warming to. What a story she has!

You enjoy a leisurely walk back to the workshop space and are invited to sit with some new people.

Saturday afternoon begins. And then for the next ninety minutes you delve deep into that thing that’s been frustrating you for years. How you articulate and describe what you do. You’ve pulled your hair out over this one for a long time and seen a lot of people go glassy eyed and say, ‘that’s interesting . . .’. They didn’t get it.

You learn the two main things that make people confused and then you’re given a simple, six step, fill in the blanks template to articulate what you do. And it makes sense! You really like it.

So, you go around your table with everyone doing their best to fill in the blanks for their business. And people start nodding. You find yourself looking at that new age practitioner across the table and thinking, ‘oh! NOW I get what you do.’ (of course – you never told her you didn’t understand her explanation on Friday night – no one ever does). When it comes to you, you do your best and you see a similar reaction. Oh my god! People are actually getting it!

To make it better, after each person goes – you’re invited to take a few minutes to share what you noticed worked and didn’t work. When it comes to you, your nervous. But to your delight much of the feedback is really positive, ‘I loved this part of your story!’ says one fellow. ‘I love how clear you were about the problem you solve,’ says a woman across from you. And then they also share where it didn’t work for them – and you have to agree. They give you some suggestions on how to improve it and you begin to feel excited to try this out on your friends.

You take a 15 minute break and when you come back, someone from the group has been invited to lead a 5 minute energizing stretch.

Over the rest of the day you cover the remaining five tools: your database, your hubs database (don’t worry you’ll learn all about what ‘hubs’ are a little further down in the letter), testimonials and case studies, email newsletters and sales funnels. It’s a lot to take in, but it all makes sense.

The day ends at 6:30pm and you trundle off to dinner with some of the new friends you’ve met. Your brain feels full – but in a good way.

Then Saturday evening at 8pm, you grab a bottle of locally made, organic wine and make your way over to this cool, local community space for that evening’s Indigo Drinks. It’s a casually catered party for the participants of the weekend plus other local leaders in the holistic field. You’ve wanted to meet a bunch of these people for years now: there’s the woman who runs the local holistic magazine, the fellow who opened up that new center everyone’s talking about, the fellow who runs the local holistic association and even your favourite yoga teacher will be there! You wouldn’t miss it for the world.

The evening is filled with delightful people, sparkling conversation and new connections. You really enjoy the time to just hang out with your classmates without having to talk about marketing or business. At around 9pm, everyone gets into a cozy little circle and has thirty seconds to introduce themselves and what they’re up to. And that quiet lady who you hadn’t met yet ends up sharing a project that is exactly what you’d been thinking of yourself! As soon as the circle breaks, you make a bee line for her and discover you’re kindred spirits.

You stay up a little later than intended but eventually make it home and go to sleep excited for the last day of the workshop.
On Sunday morning at 10am, you show up so excited to begin the day. Again, it starts with some open time for questions.
And then you dive into the part of the weekend you’ve been most excited about: The Top Ten Marketing Paths.

Tad explains that there are really only ten ways he knows of to get clients. And that they ALL work. They only question is: ‘which one is the best fit for you?’. This is a huge relief for you. You’ve been to other workshops and teleseminars where they spent hours telling you, ‘You have to use social media!’ or ‘You have to start doing workshops.’ And that had you feeling horrible. After all, you hate doing those things.

Over the day, you learn about the different paths available to you. You learn about: writing, presenting, networking, PR, social media, advertising, online presentations, client care, hosting and doing free sessions.

By Sunday afternoon three of those jump out at you as the most exciting. To your delight, you’re encouraged to mostly forget about the other ones and focus on those three. ‘I can do this!’ you think to yourself. And for the first time in years, marketing. feels. fun.

By the end of the day, your brain feels full. And thankfully, the day ends with you taking some time to review your notes and plan out your next steps. Immediately, you feel less overwhelmed and a clear sense of direction.

You’ve made such wonderful connections with people and you make arrangements to follow up with some of them to work on your marketing together.

You decided to attend on the pay what you can basis and you’re nervous that what you’re paying isn’t enough. You’d like to give more – but you’re reassured that whatever you pay is perfect. And you get that Tad really means it. You slip your payment in an envelope and put it in his bag at the front like he asked you to and, after a few hugs, make your way home.

What a great weekend.

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